NALAC Leadership Institute Class of 2018

Meet the 2018 NALAC Leadership Institute Fellows

The 18th NALAC Leadership Institute takes place July 16-21, 2018 in San Antonio. This year’s class is the largest ever!

Thirty artists and arts administrators are convening for a week-long rigorous program in arts management and leadership development. Learn more about them below

Becky AlemánBecky Alemán

Manager of Youth Cultural Organizing, Friends of the High Line | Brooklyn, NY

Becky Alemán is an educator, cultural worker, and activist born and raised in Austin currently working to develop the leadership of NYC youth. Becky creates arts-based programs that support teen development and creates spaces where they can grow, organize, and create. She increased youth access to art at Brooklyn Museum and supported youth organizers at Girls for Gender Equity in their fight against school pushout. Becky has a B.A. in Africana Studies and Art History from Vassar College and explores intersectionality, social justice, and cultural organizing in her work. She’s currently Manager of Youth Cultural Organizing at the High Line in NYC.

Sharon BenítezSharon Benítez

Performing Arts Engagement Coordinator, MACLA | San Jose, CA

Sharon Benítez is the Performing Arts Engagement Coordinator at MACLA/Movimiento de Arte y Cultura Latino Americana – an inclusive, contemporary Latino arts space in San José, California. There she develops the monthly First Friday performing arts series, manages the twice annual NPN Residencies, and coordinates classes/workshops, marketing, and community engagement. She studied English and Ethnomusicology at Santa Clara University and has worked as an arts administrator and teacher at Bay Area theaters, nonprofits, and schools. As a Mexican Folk Dancer/Musician, she’s taught and performed in California, México, Nicaragua, and London. Currently she performs with Los Panaderos and leads Grupo Folklórico Los Quetzales.

William CamargoWilliam Camargo

Artist & Arts Educator | Chicago, IL

William Camargo is a Chicanx/Latinx visual artist/educator and organizer raised in Anaheim, CA and residing in Chicago, IL. His work is inspired from his family’s immigration from Mexico and his working class upbringing in a Mexican/American barrio, touching issues of assimilation, identity, gentrification and immigration through photography. In his most recent work, he uses his rasquache aesthetics to bring awareness to issues of gentrification as a social justice issue that has plagued many communities of color across Chicago and the United States. Camargo is currently an arts educator in various southwest side neighborhoods in Chicago, teaching photography and arts as cultural expression and preservation. His work has been published in Business Insider, TIME, The Guardian, The New York Times and others, his photographs have also been displayed at the Chicago Cultural Center, Loisaida Center, Mathis Gallery, DNJ Gallery, among others.

Isabel CastroIsabel Castro

Co-Founder and Art Director, St. Sucia | San Antonio, TX

Isabel Castro is a visual artist from the southside of San Antonio, Texas. She received a BFA in Communication Design from Texas State University in 2013 and now works as a illustrator. Her work “Too Mexican” was featured at the MACLA/ Movimiento de Arte y Cultura Latino Americana’s 6th Chicana/o Biennial in San Jose, California in 2016. Isabel is a co-founder and art director for St. Sucia, a DIY, international Latina feminist magazine. St. Sucia focuses on collecting, curating and publishing contemporary Latina writing and art. She is also an organizer for San Anto Zine Fest and Creative Women’s Alliance.

Arianna ChavezArianna Chavez

Education & Public Programs Manager, Dedalus Foundation | Brooklyn, NY

Born in Fresno, California, Arianna Paz Chávez is a New York based Culture Worker striving to transform cultural institutions into equitable spaces that empower audiences through educational experiences that promote critical thinking, expand inter-cultural understanding, and support self-actualization. Chávez currently manages Education & Public Programs at the Dedalus Foundation, where she facilitates collaborative partnerships and programs that are responsive to the needs of the Sunset Park community. Her current work is informed by experiences at institutions including Arte Américas, the Fresno Art Museum, Mission Cultural Center for Latino Arts, M.H. de Young Museum, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and over 20 years of experience as a Ballet Folklórico student and dancer. She holds a B.A in Art History & Arts Management from the University of San Francisco.

Lizette Cruz WatkoLizette Cruz Watko

Founder & Board Member Emeritus, Diamante, Inc. | LizetteInvita | Cary, NC

A US born Dominican and Puerto Rican, Lizette Cruz Watko is what you would call a modern-day pioneer. She has been working in North Carolina for over 25 years to help create a better place for Latinos to live by forming mediums and organizations to further community communications and outreach as well as cultural diversity and understanding. Many North Carolina “firsts” in the Latino community can be accredited to her. She has created community engagement opportunities, cultural arts appreciation, and business entrepreneurship but is best known for founding the Diamante Arts and Cultural Center and its Latino Diamante Awards, now celebrating their 23rd year.

Jessy De leonJessica “Jessy” De Leon

Executive Director, Comparte tu Luz | San Juan, PR

Jessica “Jessy” De Leon is a songwriter, music producer, singer, painter, dancer and choreographer. De Leon has a Bachelors Degree in Business Management from the University of Puerto Rico and studied Music Production in the Conservatory of Recording Arts and Sciences, comprising part of the 5% of women worldwide in the audio engineering field. De Leon is the founder of Comparte tu Luz, a nonprofit organization that promotes art as a means to cause positive personal and social transformation and has been working with youth for more than nine years. De Leon is the recipient of the Competent Communicator Award from Toastmasters International.

Alicia EhniAlicia Ehni

Program Officer, NYFA Learning, New York Foundation for the Arts | New York, NY

Alicia Ehni is a Program Officer at New York Foundation for the Arts (NYFA), organizing professional development programs for artists and directing artist programs in Spanish. She is also the Editor of NYFA Immigrant Artist Newsletter, a contributing blogger for VoCA and NY Chapter Chair for Membership for ArtTable. She was Gallery Director of Frederico Seve Gallery/Latincollector in her previous role. Ehni is a multidisciplinary artist who uses pure geometry and pre-Columbian iconography to address territory concerns in shifting landscapes. Ehni was born in Lima, Peru, studied art at Universidad Católica, Perú and received a BFA from the Pratt Institute.

Anna Lisa EscobedoAnna Lisa Escobedo

Board Member, Calle 24 Latino Cultural District | Executive Assistant, California Historical Society | San Francisco, CA

Anna Lisa Escobedo has been involved in arts and community engagement programs for nearly a decade. Raised in East Compton with family roots that spread to El Salvador, Yucatan, and Jamaica, she identifies as an Afro-Latina. She pursued graduate studies in Latinx Studies and Art at San Francisco State University and is currently finishing her MBA in Museum Studies. She has solidified her involvement in the arts from her work in mural restorations and in producing poetry and art festivals to serving as a board member for a local nonprofit organization, leading various committees and creating her own art and installations.

Lucy GalarzaLucy Galarza

Arts Administrator, Songwriter, Cellist | INTEMPO | Norwalk, CT

Born in Barcelona, Spain, to Ecuadorian parents, Ana Lucía Galarza follows a musical legacy six generations strong. Her eclectic inclination towards songwriting, cello performance, and digital music production have allowed her to collaborate with musicians of all styles and to premiere original music at Carnegie Hall’s Weill Music Institute, Harlem Stage, and Rockwood Music Hall among others. She graduated from The City College of New York with support from the Sphinx MPower Artist Grant and a scholarship in honor of National Heritage Fellow Ilias Kementzidis. She resides in Norwalk, CT, and is the Development Intern for INTEMPO, a music education non-profit.

Sergio GarciaSergio Garcia

Program Specialist, Big Thought – Dallas City of Learning | Dallas, TX

Sergio Antonio Garcia has been a working actor in the Dallas theatre scene since 2000 and performed for some of Dallas and Fort Worth’s leading theatre companies.  With a degree in Music Education from UNT, he has used his performance experiences and educational background to be a Master Teaching Artist and provide performance based arts education to youth in communities of opportunity. Through his early work he began to understand the importance and need to provide creative learning experiences in an effort to continue out of school learning and provide life skills enrichment for youth. Sergio continues that work on a larger scale as Program Specialist at Big Thought’s Dallas City of Learning where he combines his passions for activism, diversity, equality, the arts and education to lessen the opportunity gap in communities of color.

Jaime GarzaJaime Garza

Musician, Program Director & Graphic Designer, Dos Santos | Pachanka Music Culture | ESDC | Chicago, IL

Jaime Garza is a Chicago born artist, musician, event organizer and graphic designer. His premier band Dos Santos has released 3 records and has toured extensively the US and México. He also is part of Ida y Vuelta, a traditional son jarocho quartet. Jaime is also a graphic designer and program director at ESDC a Pilsen nonprofit organization, assisting local businesses, artists and entrepreneurs with resources, workshops and opportunities. He also produces and oversees ESDC’s annual events: Mole de Mayo, ¡Buen Provecho! Taste of Pilsen, Pilsen Arts and Craft Beer fest. Jaime leads Pachanka Music Culture and has produced over 300 concerts, shows, festivals and art exhibits featuring national and international Mexican and Latinx artists, including the annual Encuentro de Jaraneros of the Midwest, a son jarocho cultural festival.

Suzy GonzalezSuzy González

Artist, Educator, Organizer | San Antonio, TX

Suzy González obtained her MFA from the Rhode Island School of Design and her BFA from Texas State University. She received a NALAC Fund for the Arts Grant for a curatorial project occurring in Summer 2018. She has attended residencies at Vermont Studio Center, the Trelex Residency in Peru, The Wassaic Residency, the Studios at MASS MoCA, and Hello Studio. Recent exhibitions include Fight or Flight at The Painting Center, Both | And at Hello Studio, and Images of Power at Freight Gallery. She is half of the collective Dos Mestizx and also half of Yes, Ma’am zine.

Chris GuerraChris Guerra

Art Collection + Program Manager, Boston Mayor’s Office of Arts + Culture | Brighton, MA

Chris Guerra is graduate of The University of Texas where she developed her passion in global perspective, human rights, advocacy, & cultural narrative as a fellow and scholar at the Intelligence Community Center of Academic Excellence (ICCAE). She interned at the Rubin Center of Contemporary Art working with artists such as Mark Bradford and youth artists from El Paso, Texas, and C.D. Juarez where she first experienced art as a powerful tool for dialogue and social change. She earned her Master’s of Science in Library and Information Sciences, with a focus on Archives and Cultural Institutions from Simmons College; her research focused on social historical narrative reflected in publicly commissioned art.

Erick IñiguezErick Iñiguez

Artist in Residence Fellow, East Los Angeles Community Corporation | Arleta, CA

Erick Iñiguez is a chicano fotógrafo born and raised in the San Fernando Valley. He comes from a large Mexican family from the states of Zacatecas and Jalisco. His work focuses on communities of color, capturing events, actions, and everyday living. Iñiguez also has an affinity for landscape photography, both nature and human-made structures. He is currently working as Arts Educator/Organizer at Eastside LEADS, a program of East Los Angeles Community Corporation.

Abril Iñiguez-RivasAbril Iñiguez-Rivas

Program Manager, Arts for LA | Los Angeles, CA

A native Angeleno, Abril Iñiguez-Rivas holds a B.A. in Biology from Pomona College and studied marine biodiversity and evolutionary genetics at the UCLA Department of Ecology & Evolutionary Biology and Indonesian Biodiversity Research Center in Denpasar, Bali. As Arts for LA’s Program Manager, she currently oversees program and event logistics, ArtsVote campaign work, and program evaluation projects. Although a trained scientist, Abril nurtures her artistic side through mariachi music; she was a founding member of Mariachi Serrano de Claremont at the Claremont Colleges and continues as an alumni member of Mariachi de Uclatlán with the UCLA Department of Ethnomusicology.

Ivan JassoIvan Jasso

Artistic Ensemble Member, Cara Mia Theatre Co | Dallas, TX

Ivan Jasso has been an Artistic Ensemble Member of Cara Mia Theatre Co. since 2009. He has worked as an actor and performer in many of the company’s productions, performing in the Encuentro De Las Americas festival in Los Angelas as well as collaborations with the Dallas Theatre Center, and Mexico City based Laboratorio De La Mascara. Ivan works as a teaching artist and educational performer with many local companies that also includes the Dallas Theatre Center’s Public Works program, a groundbreaking community engagement and participatory theater project designed to engage Dallas community members and bring them together with professional artists for a collaborative theatre experience. His work as an actor extends onto commercial, radio, film, and TV as well.

Christine LampreaChristine Lamprea

Cellist | Philadelphia, PA

Colombian-American cellist Christine Lamprea is a soloist, chamber musician, and pedagogue. She was recently awarded a Sphinx Medal of Excellence, which honors extraordinary emerging classical artists of color who demonstrate artistic excellence, outstanding work ethic, a spirit of determination, and ongoing commitment to leadership. A graduate of the Juilliard School and New England Conservatory, she is a proud San Antonio native. She will be Lecturer in Cello at Texas Christian University School of Music for the 2018-2019 academic year.

Fabián Leyva-BarragánFabián Leyva-Barragán

Curatorial Fellow for Visual Arts, Walker Art Center | Minneapolis, MN

Fabián Leyva-Barragán is a curatorial fellow in the Visual Arts Department at the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis, Minnesota. At the Walker, Fabián coordinated the exhibition presentation of “Adiós Utopia: Dreams and Deceptions in Cuban Art Since 1950,” along with Olga Viso, the Walker’s former executive director. Currently, he is working in an upcoming mid-career survey show of the Mexican artist, Mario García Torres. Fabián is interested in contemporary Latin American photography and new media art, social and political issues around cultural memory and violence, queer censorship, and digital art. He is a native Spanish speaker and knows some German.

Maya Malan-GonzalezMaya Malan-Gonzalez

Ensemble Member, Teatro Luna & Milagro | Glendale, CA

Maya Malan-Gonzalez is a multidisciplinary artist focused on performing, ensemble collaboration, and writing original content. She’s an ensemble member with Teatro Luna and a lifelong member of Milagro. Maya has also worked with Cara Mia, San Diego Rep, El Teatro Campesino, Teatro Vision and Northwest Children’s Theatre, among others. She’s performed at The Edinburg Fringe Festival (Edinburg), Fury Factory Festival (San Francisco), Carnaval of New Work (Chicago), and The Encuentro De Las Americas (Los Angeles). Maya received her B.F.A in Acting from The Theatre School at DePaul University. Currently, she is developing a modern Latinx adaptation of a Christmas Carole, commissioned by Milagro.

Michael MenchacaMichael Menchaca

Visual Artist | San Antonio, TX

Michael Menchaca has a Master of Fine Arts in printmaking from the Rhode Island School of Design. He exhibits his work nationally and has participated in artist residencies including Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture (ME), Fine Arts Work Center (MA), Segura Arts Studio (IN), and the Serie Project (TX). His work has been featured at a number of museums and institutions including: The Contemporary, Austin, TX; The Crystal Bridges Museum of Art, Bentonville, AR; Gilcrease Museum; Tulsa, OK; RISD Museum, Providence, RI; and the International Print Center New York, New York, NY. He is the other half of the collective Dos Mestizx and lives and works in San Antonio, TX.

Stephanie MercadoStephanie Mercado

Development Associate, Self Help Graphics | Los Angeles, CA

Stephanie Mercado is an artist from Boyle Heights, Los Angeles. She has worked in arts administration since 2007, while maintaining her arts practice. She has experience working with corporations and private clients on collections and acquisitions, exhibition planning, and art gallery management. She has also worked as an artist’s assistant, as a costumer and production assistant in the film industry. She received a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from California State University Long Beach in Drawing & Painting and has exhibited internationally including exhibitions in Spain, Canada, Colorado, Texas and Illinois. Stephanie joined the Self Help Graphics and Art team in September of 2017.

Mario MesquitaMario Mesquita

Education Manager, Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego | San Diego, CA

Mario Mesquita is a socially engaged artist and educator specializing in connecting people and communities in debate, collaboration, and social interaction. Mario inspires folx to question, explore, and collapse social boundaries. He is a founding member of Michelada Think Tank, a group of socially conscious artists, educators, and activists of color in conversation with other like-minded folx and allies interested in institutional critique and creative transformation. Laboring in community-based research to higher education have influenced the way Mario sees and uses art as a tool for education and an agent of social change. Mario’s practice encourages reciprocal dialogue and mutual learning.

Johana MoscosoJohana Moscoso

Artist & Community Artist in Residency Coordinator, John Michael Kohler Arts Center | Sheboygan, WI

Johana Moscoso is an artist and arts coordinator. As a Latinx artist, she explores co-narratives of South American and North American cultures. She incorporates a variety of mediums into installations that express her interest in gender roles, culture, and migration. As the Community Arts Residency Coordinator at the John Michael Kohler Arts Center, she helps generate a creative exchange between artists and communities. Through various programs in the Community Arts department she coordinates the making of different public art projects and moments that empowers Sheboygan communities. She serves as a liaison between community partners, the Arts Center and artists.

Ashley PerezAshley Perez

Visual Arts Director, SAY Sí | San Antonio, TX

Ashley Perez is a San Antonio artist who works in a variety of mediums but whose practice centers around painting. She is an alumnus of SAY Sí, a year-round, long-term, non-profit multidisciplinary arts program that provides students opportunities to develop artistic and social skills in preparation for higher educational advancement and professional careers. This unique opportunity as a young artist led her to earn her BFA in painting at The University of Texas San Antonio. She is the Visual Arts Director at SAY Sí, where she uses her practice to mentor the next generation of creative leaders.

Dr. Michelle RamosDr. Michelle Ramos

Executive Director, Alternate Roots | New Orleans, LA

Dr. Michelle Ramos brings a deep and incredibly robust diversity of experience to her new role as Executive Director of Alternate Roots.  Her background includes most recently working in criminal justice reform as Project Director of the Vera Institute of Justice, philanthropic work as a Program Officer at Women’s Foundation of California and service organization leadership as Board Chair of Dance/USA.  In addition to being a licensed attorney, she has significant organizing experience and has committed her career to serving communities and individuals adversely impacted by issues of race, gender, disability, class, socio-economics, inequitable laws and systemic oppression.

Verónica Rivera-NegrónVerónica Rivera-Negrón

Arts Administration & Education Consultant, Rivera Negrón Arts Management | Washington, D.C.

Verónica Rivera-Negrón is a puertorriqueña in the diaspora working as an arts administration and education consultant based in the Washington DC metropolitan area. She supports arts and cultural organizations initiatives that focus on the Latino community by researching, writing, developing public programs and arts-based curriculum, and facilitating bilingual outreach. Currently, her biggest project is working with the Smithsonian Latino Center diffusing the results of the impact-study of their youth and leadership development program—the Young Ambassadors Program. She has a BA in Journalism and Theatre from the University of Puerto Rico, Río Piedras, and an MFA in Performance as Public Practice from The University of Texas at Austin.

Sara Skolnick | RIOBAMBASara Skolnick | RIOBAMBA

Founder,  Apocalipsis | A&R Director, Fania Records | Brooklyn, NY

Sara Skolnick is an Ecuadorian-Lithuanian producer, DJ, and cultural activist based in Brooklyn. Her rowdy, deeply researched live sets reflect back nightlife’s power as a site of joy and resistance, and she has recently shared the stage with Tego Calderón, Nina Sky, DJ Playero, and DJ Blass. She is the founder of record label and creative agency APOCALIPSIS, a platform growing visibility for narratives by those “ni de aquí, ni de allá.” Skolnick leads A&R for Fania Records, and was previously Music Editor of Remezcla. Prior to moving to NYC, she was the first Colombia-based researcher in the Fulbright-mtvU program, studying the subversive power of digital music production in a region enduring the effects of civil conflict.

Patricia Lorena SolórzanoPatricia Lorena Solórzano

Dance Artist | New York, NY

Patricia Lorena Solórzano is a NYC based dance artist originally from México. Her work is guided by improvisation, environmental psychology, walking, identity/memory and connection to place. Most recently, she was resident artist at Guapamácataro Center for Art & Ecology, MX and Atlantic Center for the Arts. She trained with Vertigo Dance Company, Israel, and performed works by Noa Wertheim, Mats Ek, Sasha Waltz and Nacho Duato. Past residencies include E|MERGE, Earthdance; Performática, MX; ResExtensa, Italy; and the Florida Dance Festival. In Detroit, her work has been shown at the Lightbox, Detroit Dance City Festival, the Sidewalk Festival of Performing Arts and SpreadArt gallery, and she was twice a finalist for the Maggie Allesee New Choreography Award. In New York, she has performed at Triskelion Arts and Movement Research at the Judson Church. She is co-organizer of INSITU Dance Festival, NY.